Marriages in Canada

8. How do I find the right place to have a religious marriage?
To find the right religious organization where you can register a religious marriage, ask your community members, as well as search in the telephone directory for names of religious organizations. In the province of Ontario to find a religious official who is entitled to the issuance of a marriage certificate, please visit the Religious marriage officials (listed by municipality) website The person who has the authority to register religious marriage will help you to find right place to perform a religious ceremony.

9. Is there common-law marriage in Canada?
If a couple lives together for one to three years (depending on the province), has a joint household and/or are raising children together, the couple can be considered to be in a common-law marriage. Since their marriage is not registered, when they decide to stop their relations, they are not required to issue a divorce certificate, but a number of provisions of Canadian family law apply to the common-law couple. Sometimes, a common-law couple can make a relationship agreement, which sets out the terms of cohabitation and actions in the event of termination of their union. This agreement should be confirmed by the signatures of witnesses and may be registered in court. It is a legal document and, if later, the couple decides to officially register their marriage, their relationship agreement can be renewed, as the marriage contract.

If a couple who lived in a common-law marriage separate, the parents are obliged to support their children and help each other, as in a registered marriage, but the automatic division of property and the house where the couple lived in a common-law marriage, is not valid. There are also no automatic inheritance rights in a common-law marriage if one of the spouses dies. The court will recognize a common-law marriage, if you and your partner write a joint statement that in a certain period you lived in a common-law marriage. Such a declaration may also require the signature of witnesses and it must be notarized. Other proof can serve as your relationship agreement. If your partner has denied his or her involvement in a common-law marriage, consult with a lawyer who specializes in family matters.

10. Is same-sex marriage legal in Canada?
Yes, same-sex marriages are legal in Canada. In Ontario, it has been possible since 2003. The same family law applies to same-sex marriages as to heterosexual marriages.

11. How can I change my name after marriage?
While getting your marriage registered, you can change your family name to your spouse's family name on the marriage certificate, but in all your other documents your name will remain the same. This is called an assumed name, something like an unofficial name. If you want to take your spouse's family name officially after marriage, what is called a married name, it is necessary to submit an application to Service Canada to change your family name in all Canadian documents. It can be done for free, if the marriage took place less than 90 days in the past. After that time the cost of changing the name will be 25 dollars.

12. What is a marriage contract?
When getting married in Canada you can create a marriage contract with your spouse. A marriage contract is a legal document in which you can specify:
•value of property owned by both spouses prior to the marriage,
•how the property will be divided in case of divorce,
•who will pay child support in the case of divorce,
•what kind of education and religious teaching the couple wants to give children,
You can sign the marriage contract after marriage as well. It is necessary to make a marriage contract with the participation of a lawyer, since if the marriage contract would violate the laws of Canada, the court may declare it invalid.

13. How can I organize a wedding party?
You generally should plan a wedding in advance, because usually there is a waiting list for popular places where people celebrate marriages. You can arrange your wedding by yourself or hire a wedding agency to make it a memorable event. You can order music, a beautifully decorated table and the services of a photographer or a videographer. According to 25 Canadian Wedding Facts That Might Surprise You (, the average cost of a Canadian wedding is $31,110, including the honeymoon. It includes the engagement ring ($4,000), a bridal gown ($1,716), renting the wedding venue ($9,430), flowers and decor ($1,478), music ($1,250), etc. To avoid such big expenses you can get married abroad, in what is called a destination wedding.

14. Where can I find sources of additional information about marriage in Canada?
We recommended the following sources of information about marriage in Canada:
Getting married
Marriage with following topics:
•Can same-sex couples get married in Ontario? Is gay marriage legal?
•How do I get a marriage certificate?
•How do I change my name after I get married?

15. Are there any Canadian sources in other languages?
What You Should Know about Family Law in Ontario (in 9 languages)
Family Law Education for Women (in 13 languages)
Marriage (in 11 languages) with the following topics:
•Will the Canadian government recognize my foreign marriage?
•Who can get married in Ontario?
•How do I get married in Ontario?
•How do I get a marriage licence?